Alvin Ailey Dancer Chalvar Monteiro Talks International Tour, Fashion, Misty Copeland and much more

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Freestyle dancing enables one to express themselves. It’s a safe place for many dancers to create moves that aren’t planned or calculated, but contrived freely. This form of dancing allows a dancer to personalize their movements, giving it their own custom flavor. These dances are perceived as modish, fresh and fun. Freestyling is about freedom in movement to any genre of music.

In case you’re wondering what picture I’m trying to paint here, allow me to introduce you to a professional dancer who knows a lot about the art of freestyle dancing; Chalvar Monteiro of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Chalvar has been known to post eye-catching videos of himself on his personal social media pages doing freestyle dances. The settings are constantly changing whether it be a concept video as Chalvar walks through Times Square among the people, or a candid video of him dancing freely while on tour.

As I gave much thought to this idea of freestyle dancing  while pinpointing what I wanted the angle to be for this story, I couldn’t help but create a correlation between Chalvar as a dancer and my audience as individuals with their own sense of abandon, or freedom, so to speak.

Some of you reading this story now are educators, musicians, CEO’s, athletes, entrepreneurs, and more. Well, it’s important for you all to know that no matter what your passion or craft is, the healthiest thing you can do is to personalize what you do and find a way to enjoy your craft in a custom sort of way.

Allow me to use my craft as a way to better explain this long but necessary tangent. As a Digital Reporter in the media industry and as an entrepreneur as well, writing, communicating and creating content is a part of my daily life. And while these things require me to study, learn and produce, I’ve never neglected the freestyle aspect of my craft.

What am I referring to?

I’m referring to the moment in my busy day when I sit down and try to relax, as I write and speak freely about topics that are relevant to my life and to the lives of my audience members. You see, no matter how much work I do with the company I work for or even with the interviews and columns that I execute, I’d be nothing without my ability to be able to modernize my work and practice it freely without barriers.

That’s what Chalvar does as a dancer.

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Does he have specific dances and techniques that he must follow as a member of Alvin Ailey?

Of course he does, but perhaps it’s those things mixed with the fact that he loves his craft enough to spend time in the public and in the studio just dancing within himself, that makes him an even greater addition to one of the most prolific dance companies in the world.

That being said though, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself jumping on the bandwagon after seeing the name “Alvin Ailey” throughout this story time and time again. Instead, what I’d challenge you to do is embrace this opportunity to get to know Chalvar the person — the same guy who worked tirelessly for years to become one of the youngest and few males to grace the Alvin Ailey stage.

Simply put, the boy is bad.

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I knew who Chalvar was early on in my college days when I started dating Aubree Brown, who is a good friend of Chalvar’s and who danced with Ailey II in the past.

At that time, Chalvar was attending SUNY Purchase College, one of the top performing arts colleges in the country. He left his mark on their dance program, dancing in a mirage of shows, choreographing performances and spending many nights locked away in the dance studio, perfecting his craft.

And even then, when in most of his performances he followed elite choreography, that didn’t stop him from decompressing with freestyle dances when he could, keeping the creativity and personal connection to the art form very much so alive.

Monteiro might be a newer addition to Ailey, but he’s not new to the company lifestyle as he was dancing professionally before he joined the company.

In fact, it was his accolades after college that contributed to Alvin Ailey’s second company, Ailey II, bringing him on a couple of years ago, where he became a quick commodity among other members of that team, including Brown, who recently added a notch to her belt, performing at the VMA’s at Madison Square Garden with the iconic Beyoncé Knowles.

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It was Monteiro’s success with Ailey II that gave him some leverage as he auditioned for the first company, where he ultimately transitioned to, adding his name to a decorated list of legendary dancers who have been apart of Alvin Ailey’s long history.

Today, the young talented dancer is making a name for himself, one performance at a time, for a company that’s been known as a New York powerhouse since 1958.

He’s currently on tour with the company, traveling and seeing the great things this world has to offer overseas while doing what he has a love and passion for the most; dancing.

Chalvar’s story is a testament that you can’t let others hold you back from being who you are and from not just doing what you love, but doing it differently than the norm.

That’s what Chalvar is doing with his life right now. This isn’t a guy who’s worried about what you think about his decision to live his dream, dancing at a professional level. His focus is different.

For him, it seems to be more so about inspiring those who see him dance and changing their perspective about the art form for the better.

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Take a look at our interview which was set in the busiest and most historic attraction in New York; Times Square. We covered everything you could possibly imagine from his run with Alvin Ailey thus far, the international tour they’re on now and how the amazing Misty Copeland has inspired and influenced his dance career.

You’ll hear it from Chalvar himself at the end of the interview, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t also say it. CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED.

 

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Chalvar,

It was a treat featuring you in an interview for my platform, Intern Media, in Times Square — a very historic place in the Big Apple. You were great man. You absolutely owned that interview and I appreciate your openness to the tough questions I presented lol. I’m proud of you man. It’s crazy to say that this is only the beginning for you, considering you’ve attained so much success so soon, but I’m going to say it! This is only the beginning for you, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for your future. You’re apart of the Intern Media wall now, and we’re grateful to have you as part of the family bro. Continue to be great and inspire us all as you already have been!

Karl Nelson II, Founding Editor of Intern Media 

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Aubree Brown: Professional Dancer with Ailey II. Dance Instructor. Model. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

I was able to cover a story on my lady and best friend back in mid-November. At the time, the stunning Ms. Brown was just returning home to New York City after a month long tour with Ailey II. During the tour, she had the opportunity to grace the stage with her fellow Ailey II dancers in places like Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Jamaica and a slew of other great places.

In Aubree’s brief bio on her social media account, she typed in that 2014 was going to be her year and that it was. Aubree traveled the world doing what she loves, met some influential people, connected with new professional dancers, and she touched even more lives with the stories that she tells when performing under the bright lights in her leotard with her eye-catching fashionable natural look.

Before the countdown to the New Year, I asked Aubree what she was hoping to accomplish in 2015. Her response included goals for her dance career of course, new doors that her dance career will open and something huge that she says she can feel is in her path for the near future.

I’ll withhold the details for your sake. Instead of spoiling the surprise, I’ll let Aubree’s success and inspirational journey speak for itself in 2015.

What’s next for the Ailey II dancer you might ask? She’ll be leaving the country on Monday to travel once again performing throughout Germany and France. When she returns to the states in February, she’ll be hitting different stages throughout New York and preparing for Ailey II’s New York season that will take place at the Joyce Theater in March.

Aubree is a special breed as both an extremely talented dancer and a kind-hearted human being. I believe it’s that combination that is going to continue to propel her to new heights not only in 2015, but for years to come.

Marcellas Hill: CEO of Marcellas Hill Productions. Music Video Director. Choreographer. Producer. Style Icon. Supermodel. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

When I did a story on my college friend Marcellas Hill earlier this year, he had just directed what was a sold out premiere entertainment showcase for his production company (Marcellas Hill Productions) – a showcase that went by the name of Model Behavior.

Model Behavior was an artistry showcase that highlighted all forms of the performing arts and also gave Marcellas’ peers an opportunity to showcase their talents in the areas of production, make-up artistry, modeling, dance and many other areas. The showcase was a success and it came as no surprise to me considering Marcellas’ experience directing multiple shows.

Marcellas directed his first show at just 15 years of age and now he’s 23 with over 15 shows on his resume. When I think about this guy, I think about successful people in the entertainment industry like Tyler Perry who started literally from the bottom with all odds against him. However, if you look at Mr. Perry’s career today, you can see that he didn’t let his circumstances determine his destiny. He now has his own production studio campus in Atlanta, GA.

Mr. Hill has the ability to be just as great. You might ask, how can I say this with such confidence? It’s simple. How many people do you know that have directed one show in a lifetime? Well, Marcellas has had a hand in directing more than 15 shows and he’s not even 25 yet.

Since our interview some months back, Marcellas has reaped the benefits of a successful premiere entertainment showcase that reached an audience of roughly 800 attendees and received some incredible reviews according to Mr. Hill himself. “It was a great start to launching my company and building my brand/legacy.”

Model Behavior has opened up several doors for Marcellas. Shortly after his showcase, Marcellas was hired by BET Networks in order to “render creative services for a sizzle reel and to assist with the production of their premiere inaugural fashion week showcase, BET on Fashion.” BET on Fashion was showcased at the Espace Lounge in New York City and included the likes of Elle Varner, Chudney Ross, and Deborah Lee.

After Marcellas returned from New York, he got right back to work, working on a show for the Operation Renewed Hope Foundation that was geared towards raising awareness for homeless veterans. The show was successfully showcased at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City and Sarah Fraser hosted it. Attendees included the Governor of Virginia and Miss America.

Marcellas and his team are currently working on a project and trailers for it have surfaced on his social media platforms. He plans to reveal more details about the project in the days to come.

Marcellas was in a “takeover” type of mode in 2014 and what’s scary is he isn’t letting up as he walks into a new year. “Ultimately, my goal in 2015 is to establish a strong online presence and following through social media. I really want people to recognize my brand when people hear ‘Marcellas Hill Productions.’ I have big expectations for the New Year. Time will reveal my goals because I plan to publicly accomplish them.”

Chiésa Mason: Professional Dancer. Guest Artist with Eisenhower Dance. Dance Instructor in Maryland. Looking back on my Unsung blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

“Without uttering a word, we tell a story or send a message through our bodies. To pull emotions from someone just by moving your body is beautiful to me.”

These were Chiésa’s exact words some months ago when she touched on the beauty of telling a story through the art of dance in an interview with me. We are often accustomed to witnessing the best stories being told through words. That’s technically what I do as a writer, but if there is one thing that I find even more impressive than that, it’s watching a flawless dancer tell their story without having to utter a single word.

Chiésa finds excitement in this aspect of her career. While some dancers might not jump at the opportunity to get on a stage in front of large audiences, Chiésa enjoys performing. “The thrill I get before going on stage and sharing my talent is one of the most amazing feelings in the world!”

Chiésa will have the opportunity to experience such a thrill once again come February, as she’ll be performing on a southern tour with Eisenhower Dance – the same company she was under contract with last season.

While she’s in training for her guest appearance with Eisenhower Dance, Chiésa is also teaching dance to aspiring professional dancers at a charter school in Baltimore as well as at two local dance studios.

Going into a new year, Chiésa knows what she wants and is moving without hesitation to go get it. In a society where strong men are glorified, women like Chiésa serve as a reminder to everyone that there are tons of strong and talented women out there impacting those around them as well as the world at large.

When asked about her 2014 experience, she simply said “I am very happy with my accomplishments and success this past year!” Stay tuned for what Chiésa has up her sleeve for 2015 as she looks to walk into this new year with some momentum of her own.

Amir Sanders: Dancer with Atlanta Ballet. Looking back on my “Unsung” blog features from 2014.

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

This past year, I had the opportunity to interview Amir Sanders. I’ve known Amir since I was in high school and she’s been dancing since then and actually even prior to me knowing her. She’s always been a talented dancer and it has paid off for her in a major way.

When we were able to catch up some months back Amir had just appeared on “Good Day Baltimore” at FOX 45 to talk about her appearance on the well-known television show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” During our interview, I asked Amir what her experience was like dancing in front of the world on a national stage.

“It was probably the best experience of my life,” Amir said in response. “The best part of all is I got to dance for my idol Misty Copeland! She told me she loved me and I couldn’t believe it!”

Amir’s worked with the likes of choreographer, Robert Garland, who she says is “inspiring and has made me who I am as a dancer today.” She also had the opportunity to work with choreographer, Francesca Harper, which was her “most life-changing experience” and led to her auditioning for the show, “So You Think You Can Dance.”

The Baltimore native left for Atlanta in the summer and has been dancing with the Atlanta Ballets Fellowship Program ever since.

At a young age, Amir is already showing signs of someone who is determined to be successful and take the world by storm using her gifts and talents in the art of dance.

Aubree Brown: Professional Dancer with Ailey II

by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media

Baltimore native, Aubree Brown, has danced her way to the top in the styles of modern and jazz. When I met her she was a sophomore at Purchase State College. Even then her work ethic on Marley was like no other. She might not have been putting in work on the punching bag three times a day like my favorite prize fighter, Floyd Mayweather Jr., but two to three sessions in the dance studio a day is a pretty big deal too.

It wasn’t until her second summer dancing as a scholarship student at The Ailey School, that I was able to see her skill and elegance with my own eyes. Watching this beautiful ballerina grace the stage was a moment I will never forget. I’m not sure if it was my relationship with Ms. Brown or the tribal theme performance that made the experience so surreal. All I know is from that moment on; I knew she was going to be special to the dance world.

The stunning Ms. Brown has had her heart set on dancing professionally for the Alvin Ailey Company since her youth. Well, let’s fast forward to November of 2014. Brown is currently in her second year with Ailey II and she’s touring all over the world.

Determined and dedicated to her craft, Ms. Brown’s dream came true. She’s gone from campus performances to world tours and who knows what will happen next. Brown has just returned home to New York City after a month long tour where she had the opportunity to dance in Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota and a slew of other places. She even performed in Jamaica with her fellow Ailey II dancers back in September.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Ms. Brown during Ailey II’s recent tour. We discussed many things from when her love for dance began, to her time as an Ailey II dancer, to her life off-stage and much more.

When did your love for dance begin?

“At a young age, my mother signed me up to be a cheerleader for the Randallstown Panthers in my hometown of Baltimore, MD. In the beginning, I loved it, but then eventually I started losing interest in chanting the same cheers and doing the same steps all the time. I wanted to do something that was more captivating and had more meaning.

“From there, I was accepted into Sudbrook Magnet Middle School where Dance was my magnet and I minored in Drama and Spanish. Each class that I took, I fell more and more in love with dancing, especially ballet. I loved the gracefulness of ballet and how challenging the steps were, but somehow it all became natural to me. That’s when I realized that I had found something that I was meant to do. I also enjoyed performing in dance recitals and being able to express myself through movement, instead of words since I was such an introverted person. Dance became my outlet and my release.”

You’ve dreamed of dancing with Alvin Ailey since the first time you saw them perform in your hometown of Baltimore, MD. As a young girl, what was it about the performance that grabbed you the most?

“Around the age of 10, I went to see Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. One of the pieces that they performed was a piece entitled, Revelations, one of Alvin Ailey’s masterpieces. Everything about that performance was beautiful to me from the humanistic movement, the music, the story line, and of course the dancers. Not only was the dancers’ technique flawless, but their giving spirits also pulled me in as an audience member. From that day on, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater became my dream company.”

You stayed very busy in your four years in the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase State College. How did your experiences there prepare you for a professional career in dance?

“The Conservatory of Dance not only helped me enhance my technical skills as a dancer, but also my artistry and versatility. Working with various choreographers and their own personal styles at Purchase definitely helped me in that aspect. It forced me to be open minded with no limitations. The dance world is so diverse these days and there are so many job opportunities, but if you limit yourself to specific styles, you are also limiting yourself from being successful in this competitive dance world.”

You’re now in your second year with Alvin Ailey’s second company. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as an Ailey II dancer and how did you overcome it?

“Working with Ailey II has been an interesting learning experience. The most important thing I’ve learned is that you have to be able to block out any and everything that could get in the way of you accomplishing what you want to accomplish. Sometimes I have to remind myself how hard I worked to get to this place and how much harder I have to work moving forward.”

Where has been your favorite place of travel since you’ve been dancing professionally?

“So far my favorite place has been Paris, France. It’s somewhere that I’ve always dreamed of visiting one day and the fact that I made it there was an amazing experience for me. You see pictures or see movies that show off the beautiful city, but it’s nothing like seeing it in person. Paris is everything and more you ever thought it would be.”

Do you still enjoy life in New York after six years of being there?

“Believe it or not, I do (laughs). Sometimes the city can be a bit overwhelming with the fast paced life, the busy streets, the noise, and the traveling, but there’s also a beauty in all of that as well. Sometimes when I’m away in other cities, it can be very quiet and boring which makes me miss the crazy New York life.”

What do you wish the future holds for you in your career and life in general?

“In the future, I hope to look back on my life and be able to say that I’ve accomplished everything I’ve ever dreamed of and that I’ve learned something from each experience. Everything in life that we encounter is a learning experience. I want to learn something new about myself everyday in everything that I do.”

How would you describe yourself when you’re off stage in comparison to your personality when you’re performing?

“Off stage, I can sometimes be a very shy person and introverted at times. Just like Beyoncé, I have an alter ego. When I step on the stage, another person comes out because I’m so comfortable with my craft and it’s an outlet for me to be able to express myself through movement instead of words. I feel even more alive on stage than I do off stage.”

Outside of your dance life, what are some of the things that you enjoy the most?

“I enjoy ‘me time’ whether that be sleeping, relaxing, shopping, etc. Being with a professional dance company that only has 12 dancers and a hectic schedule, you don’t really get a chance to take time out to breathe and reflect. So, whenever I get the chance to collect myself and take my mind away from the chaos, I take it!”

What has dance taught you about life?

Dance has taught me to be open minded and limitless. If you set boundaries on yourself, you won’t make it very far in life. There are so many endless opportunities out there waiting for us, but in order to grab them we have to be open. The same thing goes for dance. Even though I have a strong background in Ballet and Modern, I tried other styles of dance as well to show that I can be a versatile dancer, which has opened up more doors for me.”

What’s your advice to someone out there, male or female, who is striving to get their big break as a professional dancer, but hasn’t come face to face with it yet?

“Be open, be versatile and be YOU. If you know you have a strong background in dance, but also have a love for constructing pieces, try choreography. If you love Ballet, but maybe one day you would like to become one of Beyoncé’s backup dancers, try Hip Hop and Street Jazz. If you want something so badly, make it happen. Nobody can make anything happen for you, but you. In the process of all of that, be you. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to others. Find what makes you stand out from the rest and that’s when someone will notice and remember you.”

I don’t believe one has to be in any specific place or profession to impact lives. With that being said, as a dancer how can you and fellow dancers impact those around you?

“Being a generous dancer and person, in general, will help impact the lives of others. As dancers, competitiveness can be our downfall at times and we lose our humility. We have to continue to learn from each other and help build each other up. We also have to be generous to those who aren’t dancers. The greatest feeling in the world, as a dancer, is knowing that you’ve touched someone in the audience, whether it be one person or a thousand.”